The latest of the Thor films follows the trend of the previous one in being bad (much worse actually than in The Dark World) Norse mythology and gods with space ships rather than a superheroes.
In this one, the misnamed Hela, Goddess of Death (rather than Hel, Goddess of those who die of disease or old age, Goddess of pain and disease, and certainly not a human cell line used in lab research, which would be HeLa of course) is released from her prison after the death of her father Odin (not Loki) and as Odin’s eldest child she wants to claim her rightful place on the throne. She treats Fenris (who is her sibling in the myths, her other sibling is the world serpent, Loki’s kids are a bit unusual…) as her pet, and the story of Ragnarok is given a twist. The twist we get here had the part of me that is writing these comments in brackets and still protests “Golden-haired Sif” wailing but the part that was caught up in the energy and fun of the movie quite enjoying it, even though the plot-monster part thought it was far, far too obvious as it was pretty much signalled from the trailer and the opening scene.
Loki is back, of course, he and Thor work so wonderfully together, and we have cameos from Dr. Strange (which will have a million slash fiction writers reaching for their keyboards I’m sure, Loki, Dr. Strange and Thor all together, cheekbones, muscles, accents, hair, sarcasm, sneering… you can mix and match and do whatever you want really) which was good, and Jeff Goldblum as The Grandmaster, a role which I’m assured was canonical from the comic books and was amusing for about 20 seconds before turning dull and honestly moderately offensive. He looked and acted like a stereotypical gay character from the 70’s and it looked really out of place in a film in 2017.
The plot wasn’t challenging at any point, even Loki’s tricks were rather obvious, but the various set piece fight scenes, of which there were many, generally worked very well although there was a crazy amount of cgi involved. I was trying to think if there were any fights that were cgi-free as I was writing this and I think there probably were - Loki and Valkyrie get into it and while I strongly suspect there are some stunt doubles in there, no cgi needed to be involved. Possibly some of the fighting with Thor, Loki and Hela or Thor and Hela too. That said, although some of it looked a bit tacky, sadly the final monster in particular in my opinion, often it looked ok and fundamentally told the story rather than becoming the story so I was largely ok with it.
This movie also not only sent itself up, frequently, but included several characters who were only there for the comedy value, pretty much as stand-up comics, complete with running gags! Perhaps Marvel thought that the criticism of DC films for being “too dark” might affect this film - Ragnarok being about the end of the world is a pretty dark potential story line after all - so they deliberately introduced this lighter vein to offset that, I’m not sure. I didn’t mind it, particularly but it did seem like an odd, albeit not intrusive, choice.
As with so many of the MCU films there are two mid-credits scenes. One, if I knew my Marvel comics, would probably be a great tease for what’s to come next but I don’t. The other plays right at the end. Someone behind us saw it, let out a very disappointed “Oh” which caused a ripple of laughter but also kind of summed up the general reaction, at least for the bulk of the crowd that I saw it with.
I’m sure this will do fine at the box office. It’s not ground breaking, the MCU fans who want their superhero fare will probably hate it, as they did the previous film, but I quite enjoyed it. It’s not Wonder Woman but it’s a decent film.
Bechdel test: There aren’t that many named female characters, surprisingly for a Thor movie which has generally had a lot, but Valkyrie and Hela have a short conversation about killing each other so yes.
Russo test: Technically yes, Valkyrie is meant to be bisexual. However, from what we see in the film she admires (but isn’t clearly sexually attracted to) Thor and there’s the vaguest hint that she loved another valkyrie who died protecting her. I don’t know if more was cut out but since the actress has confirmed her role was canonically bisexual I’m going to say yes although I wouldn’t have guessed from what I saw.
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